Waddell honored with Freedom of Information Award SPJ NorCal comments on ChicoSol stories

photo courtesy of Jason Halley
Dave Waddell

by Leslie Layton
posted March 16

ChicoSol contributor Dave Waddell was honored today – on Freedom of Information Day – as a “transparency champion” for work that accessed public records related to three killings involving the Chico Police Department.

Waddell received the Freedom of Information Award in the small Print and Digital division for ChicoSol stories on the killings of Desmond Phillips, Tyler Rushing and Stephen Vest. The 37th annual James Madison Freedom of Information competition awards were presented today by the Society of Professional Journalists Northern California (SPJ) chapter. read more

City of Chico takes case to Supreme Court Justices asked to nix trial over Tyler Rushing's Tasing

by Dave Waddell

The City of Chico has escalated its increasingly expensive legal fight with the family of Tyler Rushing by petitioning the highest court in the land.

A Southern California law firm last week filed a motion on behalf of the City with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn an appellate court ruling that ordered part of the Rushing family’s wrongful death lawsuit against the City to proceed to trial.

Seth Stoughton, a top expert on police use of force and a professor of law at the University of South Carolina, said in an email reply to questions that the City’s so-called petition for writ of certiorari has a “snowball-in-hell chance” of being granted by the high court. read more

Videos withheld from Rushing family in suit? Young K9 deputy, not Chico PD brass, devised fatal siege

photo courtesy of Rushing family

Tyler Rushing

by Dave Waddell

Editor: This is part 1 in a three-part series based on newly released documents.

Billy Aldridge, now second in command at the Chico Police Department, seems to have stood on the sidelines four years ago while underlings rammed into a downtown restroom and, 42 seconds later, shot Tyler Rushing to his death.

Aldridge, then a lieutenant and now Chico’s police commander, became vocal after the shooting, ordering several officers who witnessed the incident to quit talking and directing another to turn off his body-worn camera. read more

“Crimes against humanity” underway in police killings George Gold: Reform must proceed

Reform advocate George Gold

by George Gold
guest commentary

We live in unprecedented times. Pandemic. Impeachment. Insurrection. Police across the United States killing American citizens, repeatedly.

In Chico, the killings must be properly named: Desmond Phillips, Tyler Rushing, Stephen Vest. According to the United Nations, crimes against humanity are defined as “… certain acts that are purposely committed as part of a widespread or systematic policy, directed against civilians, in times of war or peace.”

These days, with so many opportunities, people often say, I want justice for Desmond, or justice for Tyler, or justice for Stephen, but rather than some sort of homily of sorrow or regret, justice will be served when we have change. The Chico Police Department must change its tactics, its operating procedures, its mindset, its culture, its behavior. Stephen Vest was shot and killed by Chico police eight seconds after they arrived on the scene; he was shot 11 times. read more

Police expert: Excessive shots by Chico officer Vest, when down, shot twice in back, and in back of neck

photo from “The Daily Show”
Former police officer and use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton interviewed by television host Trevor Noah.

by Dave Waddell

An ex-cop who researches police use-of-force issues says an excessive number of shots were fired by Chico police officer Tyler Johnson in his October killing of Stephen Vest.

At a Jan. 14 media briefing, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey ruled that Johnson, who fired nine shots, and police Sgt. Nick Bauer, who shot twice, were justified in killing Vest and would face no criminal charges. Vest, 30, was in a meth-fueled mental crisis and holding a knife when shot.

Vest was hit by a total of eight police bullets, including six rounds from Johnson’s 9mm Glock. Johnson shot Vest twice in the chest, once in the shoulder, twice in the back, and once in the back of the neck. Video from Johnson’s body-worn camera indicates the neck shot came when Vest was on his knees, head bowed, falling forward. The barrage of bullets ended with two final rounds into Vest’s back as his midsection touched the asphalt. read more

Third anniversary of Rushing killing observed Family files quick appeal after lawsuit tossed in federal court

photo by Dave Waddell

by Dave Waddell

Scott Rushing, wearing his only son’s blue polo work shirt, had a question Thursday evening for two dozen people attending a sidewalk vigil on the third anniversary of Tyler Rushing’s death.

How many people have Chico police killed since Tyler died on a bloody bathroom floor inside a title company on July 23, 2017? The answer, as many in the group knew, is zero.

“Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so. … I believe we’ve saved lives,” Rushing said of the activism that followed the killings of his son and Desmond Phillips, a young Black man in mental crisis who was gunned down by Chico police on March 17, 2017. read more